The Metahistory of Western Knowledge in the Modern Era

The Metahistory of Western Knowledge in the Modern Era

Four Evolving Metaparadigms, 1648 to Present

By Mark E. Blum

Anthem Series on Thresholds and Transformations

The book is a study of the evolving history of knowledge in the arts and sciences in the modern era –from 1648 through the present. Modernism is treated as an epoch with evolving disciplines whose articulated problems of a time and the inquiry methods to address them develop in a coordinated manner, given a mutual awareness.

PDF, 270 Pages

ISBN:9781785276996

February 2021

£25.00, $40.00

EPUB, 270 Pages

ISBN:9781785277009

February 2021

£25.00, $40.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
  • Links
  • Podcasts

About This Book

When one organizes events over periods of years and gives them an appellation such as “Modernism,” the organization of facts is guided by concepts and values discerned throughout these periods, comparable facts sufficient to call it an “era,” or an “epoch,” or other terms that insist on the shared aspects of those years, regardless of differences seen as well over the span considered. One can call such an effort a “metahistory,” in that what is tracked is not merely human events that are political, economic, ideological, sociological, or other disciplinary descriptors, but an overview that critically links all the years under consideration. Even more, to have a “metahistory” is to discern how the people of eras, epochs, or the other organizational labels, thought. Human history is generated by choices, choices informed by intuitions and more intentional understandings. One of the aspects the book dwells upon in this “metahistory” of Modernism is the presence of “perspective,” how one sees in a time what is there to be addressed and dealt with. Perspectives can be poorly informed or in their very nature not adequate for a sufficient knowledge of what is addressed, even as one must as a human judge what faces one. To discern from evidence how one’s perspective configures an event is the “meta” of “metahistory”. Modernism, the epoch from 1648 to the Present, can be described among its tenets as a period where the notion of “objectivity” has been developed. This has occurred in every field of the emergent arts and sciences in these years. Post-modernism, as will be addressed, is a more critical modernism that has brought to light the idea of multiple perspectives of objectivity as a univocal perspective of ‘objectivity’. Other modernist ideas have expanded in all fields and the ideas of what is human consciousness, epistemologies of both a reflective and a pre-reflective consciousness (called by some the ‘unconscious’) have emerged in art, aesthetics, psychology, philosophy, the social sciences, as well as the neurosciences To have “meta” knowledge is this comprehension of the scope and benefits, yet limitations, of one’s “perspective” and that of others of a time. Only a historian interested in such perspectives can be called a “metahistorian.”

The book uses the concept of the “metaparadigm,” taken from Thomas Kuhn, to track the evolution of how in a period of time the problems of the existing disciplines of knowledge are articulated, and how inquiry methods are used to flesh out a solvable problem and effectively resolve it. The book details four phases that constitute the period of time in which a metaparadigm develops. The first phase is a new set of concepts that challenge the existing approach to knowledge in each discipline. The second phase is a systematic theory that will guide inquiry. The third phase is the actual practice of the discipline in solving problems, a phase that can conflict with the older approach or be congruent with it. The fourth phase integrates the older approaches in the new one, and thus expands in an augmented manner the discipline.

The four phases of each metaparadigm have certain durations. The initial three phases usually endure for about 30–40 years, and the fourth phase for over 50 years. These phases each recur in the next period of time; that is the next metaparadigmatic period. Four evolving metaparadigms are shown in Western thought in this book, tracking one or more disciplines in the social sciences, the humanities, and the natural sciences through each of the four phases of a metaparadigm, and the four metaparadigms that occur between 1648 and the present. 

Reviews

“Blum’s vision is as panoramic as the title suggests, moving freely among fields usually kept separate from Pufendorff to Elfriede Jelinek. The work will stimulate discussion and controversy, as ambitious projects always do. It will interest anyone who values the European tradition of grand meta-historical thinking. Whatever one’s verdict on Blum's “metaparadigms,” it is heartening to see the revival of a genre that had once seemed defunct.” — Hans Kellner, Professor of English, Chair of the NCSU Faculty, North Carolina State University, USA

Author Information

Mark E. Blum is a professor of European history at the University of Louisville. He has a master’s degree in English history from the University of Pennsylvania, and a PhD in Austrian-German history from the University of Pennsylvania. He has published over nine books, several focusing upon the epistemology of human consciousness – in its verbal as well as figural foundations.

Series

Anthem Series on Thresholds and Transformations

Table of Contents

Introduction; Part I The First Modern Metaparadigm, c.1648–c.1750; Chapter One The First Phase: Seminal Ideation, c.1648–c.1670: The Focus upon Definition and Hypothesis; Chapter Two The Second Phase: Developing a Systematic Theory for Future Inquiry and Problem-Solving c.1670–c.1690; Chapter Three The Third Phase: Material Inquiry into the Verifiability of Specific Concepts, and Conflict over the Implications of the Findings c.1690–c.1720; Chapter Four The Fourth Phase: Integrating the New Four Causal Understandings with the Traditional c.1720–c.1750; Part II The Second Modern Metaparadigm, c.1750–c.1865; Chapter Five The First Phase: Seminal Ideation, c.1750–c.1770: The Focus upon Definition and Hypothesis; Chapter Six The Second Phase: Developing a Systematic Structure for Guiding New Inquiry and Explanation c.1770–c.1790; Chapter Seven The Third Phase: Material Inquiry into the Verifiability of Specific Concepts, and Conflict over the Implications of the Findings c.1790–c.1820; Chapter Eight The Fourth Phase: Integrating the New Four Causal Understandings with the Traditional c.1820–c.1860; Part III The Third Modern Metaparadigm c.1860–c.1960; Chapter Nine The First Phase: Seminal Ideation, c.1860–1870: The Focus upon Definition and Hypothesis; Chapter Ten The Second Phase: Developing a Systematic Structure for Guiding New Inquiry and Explanation c.1870–c.1895; Chapter Eleven The Third Phase: Material Inquiry into the Verifiability of Specific Concepts, and Conflict over the Implications of the Findings c.1890–c.1920; Chapter Twelve The Fourth Phase: Integrating the New Four Causal Understandings with the Traditional c.1920–c.1960; Part IV The Fourth Modern Metaparadigm, c.1970–c.2060; Chapter Thirteen The First Phase: Seminal Ideation, c.1960–1980: The Focus upon Definition and Hypothesis; Chapter Fourteen The Second Phase: Developing a Systematic Structure for Guiding New Inquiry and Explanation c.1970–1990; Chapter Fifteen The Third Phase: Material Inquiry into the Verifiability of Specific Concepts, and Conflict over the Implications of the Findings c.1990–c. 2020; Bibliography; Index.

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